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Jen Fulwiler and I are both converts, and for some reason this particular week, we both referenced our grandmothers as reminders of how the lives of women have changed -- and not for the better. In her reflection on Humanae Vitae, she notes: I pulled up another stack of glossy rags and pushed them around my bed so that I could see all the covers at once. Something I had always wondered, but had never articulated, came to the forefront of my mind: When, exactly, did the standard of beauty become a dictate that we must all look like Barbie dolls? When I saw pictures of my ancestors, the women always looked beautiful, but in a way that didn’t overwhelm the senses with their physical beauty alone. The faded photographs of my grandmothers and their grandmothers showed clothing styles that left some attention for their faces, that didn’t detract from the subtleties of their expressions. The draping of the material smoothed over details, so that a few extra pounds could be smoothed into graceful curves. Now, a century and a half later, society says a woman can hardly consider herself truly beautiful without a tight abdomen, slender physique, wrinkle-free face... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at feminine-genius
I don't know much about this wrongful conviction, other than what was in the story, but of course the forgiveness angle was obvious. A mother of three was jailed for the murder of a homeless man, on the testimony of a [now deceased] woman with a penchant for lying. The actual murderers were eventual found, and now, 17 years after the conviction, Susan Mellen has been reunited with her family. "I'm a free woman now. Let me do the running man," she said, and did a few jogging dance steps before the microphones. She joked and beamed but also described her imprisonment as "cruel punishment." "I would cry every night" in prison, Mellen said, but never lost faith and even wrote "freedom" on the bottom of her tennis shoes "because I knew I was going to walk free one day." Mellen said she held no ill will against those who put her behind bars. "No, no, I always forgave my enemies," she said. "Even your haters, you have to forgive them and sometimes you have to thank them because they bring you closer to God." Mellen said she planned to go to dinner with her family and wanted to eat... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2014 at feminine-genius
This is the most helpful address I've seen so far at the Synod: Arturo and Hermelinda As Zamberline, married for 41 years with three children, addressed the Synod during the morning session Oct. 9. The designated subject for the session was the "pastoral challenges concerning an openness to life." "We must admit without fear that many Catholic couples, even those who seek to live their marriage seriously, do not feel obligated to use only the natural methods" of birth control condoned by the Church, said the Zamberlines, leaders in their country of an international Catholic movement, Teams of Our Lady. "We must add that generally they are not questioned by their confessors" on the subject. The Zamberlines, who are participating in the Synod as non-voting auditors, said the "rhythm of life" today makes it difficult to find time to learn natural methods of family planning, which they said have acquired an "unjust reputation of being unreliable," because they are badly explained and thus badly practised. "The great majority of couples do not reject the use of contraceptive methods. In general, they do not consider them a moral problem," the Zamberlines said. The Brazilian couple concluded with an appeal to the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at feminine-genius
That 's what comes to mind in the case of an Iranian prisoner, whose mother describes her anguish over her daughter's impending execution. A distraught Shole Pakravan, whose daughter, Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, has spent seven years in prison awaiting execution, spoke to via Skype and begged for her daughter's life. "The only thing I want ... from God, from people around the world ... in any way, in any form, is I just want to bring Rayhaneh back home," Pakravan said in Farsi, which was translated by "I wish they would come tie a rope around my neck and kill me instead, but to allow Rayhaneh to come back home." More here. Petition here. Prayers, please, for this case and all the others. May all the innocent "doves" be freed. Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at feminine-genius
Called to discuss the particular needs of the family at this time, a special session of the Synod of Bishops is about to begin, and George Weigel has some good words: The Synod discussion, in other words, should take the crisis of marriage and the family as a given and then lift up Christian marriages, lived faithfully and fruitfully, as the answer to that crisis. The Synod should begin with what is good and true and beautiful about Christian marriage and Christian family life, and show, by living examples, how that truth, goodness and beauty respond to the deepest longings of the human heart for solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love. It’s quite obvious that the Church faces real pastoral challenges in dealing with broken marriages and their results. But to begin the discussion of marriage and the family in the 21st century there is to begin at the wrong end of things. For it is only within the truth-about-marriage, which was given to the Church by the Lord himself, that compassionate and truthful solutions to those pastoral problems can be found. That said, besides living our marriages well -- despite the trials and difficulties, supporting those who are married, and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at feminine-genius
Few people who didn't come of age in the 1980's understand the power of Fleetwood Mac, and this news item underscores the dark, sad side of our generation: Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks has confirmed that she was once pregnant with Don Henley’s child. The Eagles singer has said in interviews that Fleetwood Mac song ‘Sara’ was dedicated “to the spirit of the aborted baby” they conceived together. The lyrics (and the song) are at the site, so that you can see that what you were singing and dancing to back then was a death saga. For little Sara and millions more, who paid the price of our wantonness. Poor dears, and poor parents who never got over the choices they made. Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at feminine-genius
From the Angelic Doctor: In ancient times it was an especially great event when an angel appeared to men, so that men might show them reverence, for they deserve the greatest praise. It was written in praise of Abraham that he received angels hospitably and that he showed them reverence. But it was never heard that an angel showed reverence to a man until he saluted the Blessed Virgin, saying reverently, “Hail.” The reason why in antiquity the angel did not reverence man but man the angel is that the angel was greater than man… Therefore it was not fitting that the angel should show reverence to man until someone should be found in human nature who exceeded the angels in those three respects. And this was the Blessed Virgin. In order to signify that she exceeded him in these three things, the angel wished to show her reverence; hence he said, “Hail.” THE ANGEL'S DIGNITY In olden time an Angel would not show reverence to a man, but a man would deeply revere an Angel. This is because Angels are greater than men, and indeed in three ways. First, they are greater than men in dignity. This is because... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at feminine-genius
That phrase was coined by Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, a doctor in the UK who is part of the group, Not Dead Yet, and who noted, "death in Belgium was now regarded 'as lightly as stepping off a bus'. Well, for a variety of reasons a couple from Belgium (who are still at home, only suffering from age-related illnesses) have chosen their 64th wedding anniversary next February to end it all: An elderly husband and wife have announced their plans to die in the world's first 'couple' euthanasia - despite neither of them being terminally ill. Instead the pair fear loneliness if the other one dies first from natural causes. Identified only by their first names, Francis, 89, and Anne, 86, they have the support of their three adult children who say they would be unable to care for either parent if they became widowed. Now that last line about the three children is curious, since the couple themselves were unable to find the right doctor to accomodate this wish. The children graciously took the time to make the arrangements, for which the parents are "grateful." This plan, they say, is necessary because of their myriad fears about the future: the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at feminine-genius
God bless Emma Watson for her good intentions: But the problem she may be too young to grasp involves the actions of feminists over the last 60 years. These are the points on which she is spot on: It is in the best interest of men to protect women; All children need their fathers -- whose importance has been marginalised by the culture; Girls have a right to education and personal integrity; Women and men are fundamentally equal; The legitimate needs of men are often eclipsed by cultural stereotypes; Child marriages are deplorable and need to be stopped; These issues are urgent and essential. The problems arise concerning the hidden agenda of feminism: Equal pay for equal work is a canard based on false data; Freedom of opportunity has often been the premise for quotas; The gender "spectrum" is a masque for the LGBT agenda; "Gender equality" is a masque for androgyny; "Women's rights" is a masque for abortion-on-demand; "Social equality" is a masque for rampant secularism; Fighting "agression" is a masque for degrading legitimate male strengths. "Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one?" she asks. Women are uncomfortable identifying as feminists because of its politics, which have... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at feminine-genius
Interesting that she wasn't defending the rights of women, the rights of conscience, or the right to bodily integrity, but protesting the destruction of cultural sites in Iraq: Militants with the Islamic State group publicly killed a rights lawyer in the Iraqi city of Mosul after finding her guilty of apostasy in a self-styled Islamic court, the U.N. mission in Iraq said Thursday. Samira Salih al-Nuaimi was seized from her home on Sept. 17 after allegedly posting messages on Facebook that were critical of the militants' destruction of religious sites in Mosul. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, al-Nuaimi was tried in a so-called "Sharia court" for apostasy, after which she was tortured for five days before the militants sentenced her to "public execution." She was killed on Monday, the U.N. mission said. Her Facebook page appears to have been removed since her death. "By torturing and executing a female human rights' lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency," Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at feminine-genius
My newest piece at Catholic Lane is here: While many pious people are wringing their hands over the popular culture and wondering if God will save his people, I find that the moral decay and preposterous incongruities we witness daily actually reinforce all I believe about Divine Revelation [read the rest ...] While many pious people are wringing their hands over the popular culture and wondering if God will save his people, I find that the moral decay and preposterous incongruities we witness daily actually reinforce all I believe about Divine Revelation. What else is to be expected when God is removed from the Public Square? - See more at: While many pious people are wringing their hands over the popular culture and wondering if God will save his people, I find that the moral decay and preposterous incongruities we witness daily actually reinforce all I believe about Divine Revelation. What else is to be expected when God is removed from the Public Square? - See more at: While many pious people are wringing their hands over the popular culture and wondering if God will save his people, I find that the moral decay and preposterous incongruities we... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2014 at feminine-genius
There are the favoured groups that receive kid-glove treatment, there are the career choices that are praised for taking women into unchartered territory, and there is reality. Recently, all three collided to the detriment of female mixed-martial arts competitor Tamikka Brents: In a post-fight interview this week, she told Whoa TV that "I've never felt so overpowered ever in my life." “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ” His “grip was different,” she added. “I could usually move around in the clinch against...females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.” Ms. Brents had the trauma of fighting Fallon Fox and didn't last three minutes. Fox who was transgendered in 2006 now pretends to be a woman. But he's not, and now the league is wondering how to proceed when anyone can say "I'm a woman, and I want... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2014 at feminine-genius
Family meals are essential! Discussion on Relevant Radio here. The Slate article I reference is "Let's Stop Idealising the Home-Cooked Meal", which has some decent points: The researchers interviewed 150 mothers from all walks of life and spent 250 hours observing 12 families in-depth, and they found “that time pressures, tradeoffs to save money, and the burden of pleasing others make it difficult for mothers to enact the idealized vision of home-cooked meals advocated by foodies and public health officials.” The mothers they interviewed had largely internalized the social message that “home-cooked meals have become the hallmark of good mothering, stable families, and the ideal of the healthy, productive citizen,” but found that as much as they wanted to achieve that ideal, they didn't have the time or money to get there. Low-income mothers often have erratic work schedules, making it impossible to have set meal times. Even for middle-class working mothers who are able to be home by 6 p.m., trying to cook a meal while children are demanding attention and other chores need doing becomes overwhelming. Beyond just the time and money constraints, women find that their very own families present a major obstacle to their desire to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2014 at feminine-genius
The bulk of the details are here, and an excellent 10-minute video is here, which outlines the insanity that prevails in refusing to connect the religious/cultural view of the perpetrators with their behaviour. There must be a honest, vigourous debate about immigration policy, legal implications, and social service priorities. But that said, we cannot ignore the question of why there are thousands of vulnerable girls subject to abuse. The answer lies in the disintegration of the family, the widespread addiction to drugs and alchohol, and the sexual climate which turns a blind eye to promiscuity in our young. Consider: girls are gone for hours, even days without concern by parents or caregivers; girls are plied with alcohol and return home raped -- with no one to notice; girls think nothing of drinking and promiscuity from the outset, before being abused; police see sexual activity of very young girls as a cultural norm; police are overwhelmed with homeless, vagrant children; social service agencies, likewise, are overwhelmed with vagrancy and degraded clients. Of course, there is the fear of being labeled "racist," which complicates things, and the bar of lowered expectations among the non-Muslim population ("One young person told the inquiry that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2014 at feminine-genius
Last year, I enjoyed a lovely, rambling conversation with Pat Gohn on the topic of forgiveness. She has just released it this week, and it's available here. God's timing is always perfect, so perhaps now is when He would have you consider this important subject. As my book indicates, walking through the flames, doing the challenging work of healing through forgiveness is well worth it, for only then are you really Set Free! Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at feminine-genius
In the accelerating tumble down the ideological hill that happens when ignoring natural law, we find the following phenomenon: An all women’s college in California is admitting male students, as long as they self-identify as female. Mills College, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, approved a new policy that lets applicants who self-identify as women enroll, making it the first single-sex college to let applicants specifically pick their gender. The new policy takes effect this fall, but the existing student body finds this loophole: The application policy prohibits students who were born as females and have undergone surgery to become a male from admission. However, female students who become male while enrolled at the college may continue on to graduate. Students who are gender-neutral must have legally been born as a female in order to gain acceptance into Mills. This only affects the 3-5 students annually who attempt to live as transgendered persons, but the principle is telling: nature is irrelevant, feelings rule. While the gender-identity continuum is considered fluid and self-driven, I would suppose that the students in question (men identifying as women) would have to maintain that identity for the duration of their college career, limiting the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2014 at feminine-genius
I am almost finished a wonderful book, Sister Queens, by Julia Fox, concerning two of the daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella (of Aragon and Castile, respectively). Queen Katherine, of course, was the first wife of Henry VIII, and Queen Juana was the wife of Philip, son of Maximilian, Holy Roman Emperor (later dubbed "Juana the Mad"). We are quite familiar with the story of Henry -- who put away Katherine out of dynastic concerns, but this is the first account I've found that follows her life entirely -- from childhood, through putative marriage to Arthur, widow, negotiator, remarriage, and as a loyal daughter of Spain. Also, it gives a compelling account of Juana -- explaining how she was manipulated by the men around her (husband and father) to be accounted mad for their own ends. I will give a full review of it when finished, but in the waning days of summer, you may want to pick it up and see history from an entirely different angle. Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2014 at feminine-genius
Will be on Relevant Radio in the morning (Monday) at 8:30am EST. Will provide link when it's posted. The link is here (second half of the hour). If you want me to come and speak to your women's group, details here. We really must spread the Church's wonderful news about femininity! Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2014 at feminine-genius
Rachel Lloyd is a British journalist who has ridden the well-known roller-coaster concerning children: Two years ago, when I turned 40, I felt a surge of relief. My exhausting thirties were over. That agonising decade with the relentless tick of the biological clock ... was finally behind me. At 35, if you are single and childless, there is an assumption that, while you may have been wasting time thus far, you might still manage to find a husband and have a baby. But at 40, the fertility window closes in and if the clock hasn't quite struck midnight, it's likely to be very nearly there. At 40, I was finally able to acknowledge that I wasn’t ever going to be a mother. I cried, I laughed, I talked it through with friends. The life script I’d always taken for granted – that I’d have a family (along with a semi-detached house and large dog) was no longer relevant – through circumstance, rather than choice. Once I’d begun to make peace with this idea, I felt I could start moving forwards. And I discovered I was far from alone. There were plenty of us so-called ‘NoMos’ (Not Mothers) out there. So... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2014 at feminine-genius
A report from UNICEF was released today, entitled "Ending Child Marriage: Progress and Prospects," revealing that 700 million marriages worldwide involved girls under the age of 18, and of those, about 250 million of the girls were under 15. (Comparably, about 2% of boys were married under the age of 15, meaning that many these girls are married to considerably older men.) One-third of the married girls are from India, roughly half are from South Asia, and the bulk of the rest are in Africa. In proportion to their own populations, the ten most culpable countries are: Niger (77%) Bengladesh (74%) Chad (69%) Mali (61%) CAR (60%) India (58%) Guinea (58%) Ethiopia (58%) Burkhina Faso (52%) Nepal (52%) Contributing factors include culture, poverty, dowry laws, and lack of access to education or economic independence. The report studiously avoids explaining what the foundations of these "cultures" might be, since there's no reference to religious traditions, which are usually powerful indicators. The report summarises: Girls who marry are not only denied their childhood. They are often socially isolated -- cut off from family and friends and other sources of support -- with limited opportunities for education and employment. Households typically make decisions... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at feminine-genius
I had a nice chat on Relevant Radio this morning, concerning something women can keep in mind while spending time with family and friends. The interview is here [second half of hour]. Pertinent column was recently published here. When schedules change and families spend more time together, we are given an opportunity to have important conversations with those we love. Whether during slower days at home, get-togethers at vacation spots, or traveling to visit distant relations, discussions often turn to shared events of the past--which can be the occasion of laughter, bittersweet recollections, or dredging up old conflicts, with all their baggage. When families gather together and reminisce, one is often shocked by how others remember particular persons and events. We carry with us an eclectic composite of memories that have shaped us over the years, and that have colored our opinions about how the world works, but occasionally two persons will remember an occasion or encounter so differently that they have trouble recognizing the shared experience [continue reading]. Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2014 at feminine-genius
Dom Kirby, prior of Silverstream Priory in County Meath, Ireland has a wonderful meditation on the fall of Judas, which he explains was a gradual process. There were aids along the way that could have helped him with his frustrations and misunderstandings about Christ's mission. Surely he could have talked to Our Lord himself, or to Peter or John. But his opportunity to talk to Mary remains for all of us. Consider her availability then and now: Judas had another recourse, but he was too proud to make use of it. He could have gone to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Even before the words of Our Lord to Saint John from the Cross, “Behold, thy mother” (Jn 19:27), Mary was a true mother to each of the Apostles. She knew them as any mother knows her children, and she loved them, even with their weaknesses and repeated failures to believe in her Son, to hope in Him, and to love Him. Any one of the twelve could have gone to Mary at any time for counsel, for comfort, for encouragement, and for a mother’s blessing. She loved each of them because her Son loved them, and chose them, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at feminine-genius
Pope Benedict is 87 years old today. While his birthday this year does fall in Holy Week, in 1927 -- the year of his birth -- April 16th was actually Holy Saturday itself. As he writes in his autobiography, Milestones: The fact that my day of birth was the last day of Holy Week and the eve of Easter has always been noted in our family history. This was connected with the fact that I was baptized immediately on the morning of the day I was born with the water that had just been blessed. (At that time the solemn Easter Vigil was celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday.) To be the first person baptized with the new water was seen as a significant act of Providence. I have always been filled with thanksgiving for having had my life immersed in this way in the Easter mystery, since this could only be a sign of blessing. To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at feminine-genius
"We're all guilty" seems to the philosophy of Brandeis, the Boston University which has uninvited Ayaan Hirsi Ali from receiving an honourary doctorate at their commencement exercises this spring. The school noted: She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier. Since they don't name the statements, we must conclude that they concern her dislike of Islam, for the following reasons: Ms Ali was raised as a Muslim; She was mutilated as a child according to the dictates of that religion; She was forcibly married to a man she didn't know (as I recall from her biography, she wasn't even at the wedding ceremony, because marriage-by-proxy was another acceptable custom; She was disillusioned by her faith, which considered women to be 2nd class persons; She spoke up about her concerns and has had death threats from Muslims ever since. None of these things are disputed; the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at feminine-genius
When feminists consider the plight of women, they seem to fixate on tearing down male "privilege" (where they notice it) and providing contraceptives to coeds, rather than highlighting the real problems that women of the world face. Consider the battered in Bangledesh: About 87 percent of married women in Bangladesh have been victims of various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-sponsored survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, released this January. Of 12,600 women surveyed, 65 percent said they were physically tortured by their husbands, 36 percent were victims of sexual violence, 82 percent faced psychological abuse and 53 percent were victims of mental anguish. Only half the victims received treatment, while one third said they didn’t seek treatment for their injuries over fears of a backlash from their husbands. In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the conservative patriarchal attitude of society is blamed for sexual violence within marriage. The use of the phrase "conservative patriarachal attitude" is interesting, because many go to its heart to name the culprit: men. Indeed, the attitudes of Bangladeshi men are deeply troubling: A WHO survey of 2,400 Bangladeshi men found that 89 percent of rural men... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2014 at feminine-genius